Real Estate / Neighborhoods

Dallas’ Underrated Neighborhood Guide — What to do in the Design District

Must-Visit Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Breweries and Entertainment

BY // 01.08.20

Dallas’ Design District is an oft underrated neighborhood when it comes to food and nightlife. It’s primarily known for its many art galleries, design studios and showrooms. But, did you know that the area also boasts several great restaurants, breweries, coffee shops and entertainment hotspots?

Over the years, billionaire developer Bill Hutchinson of Dunhill Partners has contributed to the rise of the Design District with apartment homes, showrooms and art acquisitions. You may have noticed the giant blue baby at the entrance off of Oak Lawn. Hutchinson bought that.

And this spring, another large, 12-foot sculpture will be placed somewhere in the area. From artist Kai, whose work is heavily featured at the nearby Markowicz Fine Art Gallery, Love Bomb is a sculpture of his signature Imaginary Friend character.

And with the recent opening of brand new Virgin Hotels Dallas, a partnership between Hutchinson and Virgin billionaire Richard Branson, the Design District is sure to gain more recognition as a popular neighborhood to go out in and have fun.

Restaurants

You may be surprised to hear that Sassetta, an Italian restaurant, has one of the best brunches in the Design District. From Headington Companies, the trendy spot offers sandwiches, salads, pizzas and pastas during brunch, as well as specialty dishes like eggs alla puttanesca and brioche French toast with honey ricotta and citrus.

One of Dallas’ best burger joints is also located in the Design District. Rodeo Goat has so many options for burgers. Two must-trys are the Chaca Oaxaca with a beef and chorizo patty, avocado spread, pico, fried egg, queso and Tabasco mayo and the Sugar Burger with candied bacon, grilled peaches, jalapeno jam, arugula and caramelized onions.

Make sure to try some appetizers at eclectic American restaurant Foxyco. The Wagyu meatballs are addicting and tuna tartare has just the right amount of crispy rice. Eat these while sipping on a signature cocktail like the Canary with Chopin vodka, lemon, strega, lemongrass syrup and pink peppercorn.

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A yellow submarine in the middle of Town Hearth’s dining room.

Town Hearth is a Nick Badovinus joint known for its crazy amount of chandeliers, 1974 Ducati motorcycle and big yellow submarine in an aquarium in the dining space. The steakhouse’s menu includes a raw bar, prime steak cuts, rogue cuts and entrees such as Rigatoni Bolognese and a Waygu Cheeseburger a la Plancha. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also get some dry-aged chili cheese fries for $18.

For barbecue, drinks and live music in a replica of a classic backyard (plus a ferris wheel), go to Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ. With lawn games, patio seating and the 50-foot-tall ferris wheel, there’s enough entertainment to keep parents and kids happy. The menu includes staples such as brisket, ribs and sausage, as well as sides like green beans, jalapeno bacon coleslaw and potato salad. And most importantly, happy hour runs Mondays through Fridays from 4 pm to 7 pm with canned beers for $3 and crafts for $4.

Bars

Bar Charles is the newest addition to the Design District’s bar scene, which is slowly growing. An extension of The Charles, an Italian restaurant opened by Chas Martin just 18 months ago, the champagne bar can be found around back with a cool, speakeasy-esque entrance. The “maximalist” space includes neon pink lighting, floral prints and a custom printed mural on the ceiling. There’s a cocktail menu, champagne, wine and bites.

For a more gastropub feel, check out Wheelhouse. Craft cocktails range from a mezcal, pineapple, poblano, lime and cumin bitters Kickstarter to a Nutty Old Fashioned with bourbon, rye, orgeat and black walnut bitters. There are also about 17 draught beers and tons of wines. For a bite, try the Yellowfin Poke Bowl or Standard Burger.

Coffee

Ascension is hands down the best coffee in the Design District. It is one of only two shops in the area, but it’s still top notch Dallas coffee. An Aussie-style coffee shop, you can find Australian espresso drinks like a Long Black and Flat White. There also is a special Doki Doki cold brew, which is a nitro infused Kyoto cold brew. It’s highly caffeinated so be prepared. A full food menu can also be found here with standout breakfast bites like Vegemite toast and an Aussie bacon & egg roll.

Ascension
The Draft Latte at Ascension is a cold summer brew with frothy foam. Courtesy of Ascension

While you can find five other Ascensions in North Texas, Hands + Rose Coffee has only one shop, and it’s in the Design District. Hidden away, attached to a church on Manufacturing Street, this small shop also makes great cortados, cappuccinos and lattes.

Breweries

There are several great breweries in the Design District, which have led to beer tours just of this area. Community Beer Company has a large space in the neighborhood that includes tons of rooms for yard games and board games. The Mosaic IPA India pale ale is a favorite, along with their Texas lager. Other core beers, available year round, are Witbier, a Beligan-style white ale; Silly Goose, a fruited wheat beer; and the new Citra Slice.

Texas Ale Project opened up in 2014 and is veteran and family-owned. It was the first brewery and tap room to be built from the ground up in the City of Dallas since the late 1800s. Known for its Fire Ant Funeral amber ale, the brewery also has a R&D series which lead to some pretty interesting creations.

Founded by Michael Peticolas in 2011, Peticolas Brewing Company has a taproom that offers 33 beers, including the popular Velvet Hammer. There’s a downstairs area with board games and upstairs for ping pong and shuffleboard. If you’re interested in a tour, you can pay $10 for a branded glass and three beer tokens on the first or third Saturday of the month.

Entertainment

Part cidery, part arcade, Bishop Cidercade is one of the most fun places to go with a date or friends. With more than 170 arcade games to play from pinball to Mario Kart, you only pay $10 for entry. The arcade offers all of the ciders from Bishop Cider Co. including The Dark Cide and The OG.

Bowlounge is a vintage-style bowling alley with food, drinks and other games. Located in an old warehouse space, the spot has a unique old school bowling alley feel with modern touches. While bowling, playing ping pong, or pool, you can order appetizers like homemade pretzel balls made with Local Buzz and Velvet Hammer beer cheese. Several burgers, wings, pizzas and entrees are also available.

An art museum off of Glass Street, Dallas Contemporary is a fun place to go check out some standout exhibitions. Without any permanent collections, the work is constantly changing. Artists who have exhibited their works here include John Currin, Yelena Yemchuk, Francesco Clemente and more.

Haas Moto Museum & Sculpture Gallery is another unique attraction in the Design District. Founded by Bobby Haas, the collection includes more than 200 bikes that span 12 decades. The 20,000 square foot space showcases motorcycles from 1901 to the present day, as well as 50 custom creations.

Virgin Hotel

The brand new Virgin Hotel, which just opened this December, is an attraction in itself. With it comes chef Matt McCallister’s latest restaurant, Commons Club, as well as a rooftop pool club with drinks and bites and Funny Library Coffee Shop. It’d be a great hotel to have a staycation just to experience all of the artsy decor, secret garden with a hot tub and chamber rooms that include things like SMEG mini-fridges and incredible views of the Dallas skyline.

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